WPD1I recall a study done some decades ago at a prison. Half the inmates were put on a strictly vegetarian diet and the other half of the prison population retained their usual meat-based dietary fare. After a few months the behaviour differences in the two study populations were obvious. Violence amongst the vegetarian prisoners just about vanished, yet it remained at its usual level with the meat-fed control group.

Tolstoy wrote back in the 1800s that as long as we have slaughterhouses, we will have battles. Strong statement, don’t you think? And yet, the battles continue and violence, even in our homes, is not unusual.

Jesus was an Essene. The Essenes did not believe in the sacrifice of animals, a common practice of their day. They demanded complete cleanliness of the body and dressed always in white. Since they did not believe in harming any of God’s creatures, they were strict vegetarians. When Jesus spoke of meat, he was referring to food of a vegetarian nature. The Greek words we loosely translate as ‘meat’ merely mean food or nourishment. Thus, when Jesus is quoted as asking, “Have you any meat?” he was really asking, “Have you anything to eat?” There is no documented evidence that he ate anything other than live, vegetarian food, even when visiting the homes of the rich, where he was often a guest.

Perhaps we need to listen to courageous speakers and writers such as Will Tuttle, Ph. D. I have in my hands a copy of Dr Tuttle’s book titled World Peace Diet and subtitled Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony.

Will Tuttle

Will Tuttle

The plant-based lifestyle and diet advocated by Will Tuttle is nothing new. What is perhaps new is the comprehensive and compassionate manner in which Will Tuttle links our feelings, our psyche and our individual and collective behaviour to the way in which we treat animals. He is a compelling voice for the many sentient creatures we share this beautiful planet with. He is urging humankind to move from human to kind.

It so happened that Will Tuttle spoke in Kaitaia at the Te Ahu Centre on Sunday, February 23rd. Dr Tuttle is the co-founder, with Judy Carman, of the Circle of Compassion and the Worldwide Prayer Circle For Animals. A classical musician and former Zen monk who studied in Korea, Will Tuttle spoke about the connection between what we put on our plates and the current state of affairs in our lives and in the world.

On Sunday 23 February at Te Ahu vegan refreshments were served at 1pm, Will Tuttle’s presentation began at 1.30pm and was followed by a vegan meal at 3pm. Sponsored by Gentle World, the talk and meal were free.

The turnout for the event in our little town was excellent. And not only were the words of Dr Tuttle inspiring, so was his musicianship on the piano. He played one well known classical composition and one piece of his own making.

For a comprehensive post on Will Tuttle’s February visit to Kaitaia please visit: http://gentleworld.org/an-afternoon-with-will-tuttle-2/

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

Snow Queen Helen Yuretich and friends

Snow Queen Helen Yuretich and friends

I’ve shared before on the immense power and importance of volunteers in our communities. The Storylines Family Fun Day at Te Ahu on Saturday, August 17th was a shining tribute to the volunteer. Countless hours of preparation went into readying for the event. It wouldn’t even have happened but for the initiative and incredibly hard work of one person, Helen Yuretich. Her reward, as with all volunteers, is in the giving. But Helen and all the volunteers on the day deserve our votes of thanks.

Visitors to Storylines were perplexed to discover the community complex’s carparks were both full on what turned out to be a wild weather day. Once they found a place to park everyone was rewarded with a dynamic collage of activities spread throughout the building (and even outside in the case of the donkeys). No one could claim there wasn’t something of interest or inspiration for children or for the adults who accompanied them.

Stephen Yuretich entertaining children with donkey

Stephen Yuretich entertaining children with donkey

Storylines is New Zealand’s oldest annual literary festival, bringing together authors and illustrators with thousands of their young readers and supportive adults for the past twenty years. For those twenty years Storylines has been held in major centres around the country and for roughly the past six years Storylines has been celebrated in Northland as well. For the first time this year Storylines took place in Kaitaia. What a privilege and a treat for everyone concerned!

But again it couldn’t happen without the huge input of volunteers. Just to give one example, six face painters worked non-stop for the duration of the festival in Kaitaia. Students from Kaitaia College circulated throughout the building, providing information where needed and in some cases wearing costumes that children (and many adults) loved. Council staff volunteered their time as did teachers, individuals and in some cases entire families. The work for some was far from glamorous but people gave of their time willingly and with a smile..

For those of you who missed out on the event here is just a little recap. Children’s authors read aloud in the library. The atrium saw a near-continuous flow of entertainment from pianists, through Kaitaia College music students and a group that sang to their own ukulele accompaniment.



The main hall provided lots of arts and crafts, factopia, drum and didgeridoo lessons and even the opportunity to see illustrators at work. And the little theatre was host to one performance after another, each before a large audience.

Two thousand people passed the door counter in the library on the day. Although not an entirely accurate measure, this statistic alone indicates just how busy it was at Te Ahu for Storylines on Saturday, August 17th.  I for one would welcome the challenge of having this great annual event return to Kaitaia in the future, hopefully sooner than later.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com


When the internet arrived nigh on twenty years ago some declared that libraries would become extinct. The same anguished cry has gone out with the arrival of the e-reader.

Public libraries have embraced the internet and e-readers. Most libraries around New Zealand (including the six in the Far North) offer free internet and WIFI to anyone, including non-library members. E-books are relatively new. The Far North District libraries belong to a consortium of North Island libraries that offer e-books and downloadable audio books to their patrons.

A few library patrons initially abandoned their public libraries when they first acquired their e-readers. But for most the e-reader is a supplement to their ordinary paper book, rather than a replacement. In many ways the e-reader is to your library what your microwave is to your kitchen. It is an extra, an add-on. It doesn’t replace the other services offered by your library just as the microwave doesn’t replace your cooker.

New Zealanders love their libraries. The modern library is a vibrant community hub. It may not always be as quiet as it once was, but it still a place to search for knowledge and information. And it is a place to meet with friends and family. Here in Te Ahu you can do that while sipping on a cappuccino and listening to live piano music.

E-book circulation has advanced steadily since the introduction of our Novel service. And the collection is growing. But traditional library use remains, only better than ever. Now patrons can request and renew books online. Our online catalogue is easy to use and includes a cover photo of most resources. It also includes lists of new books purchased by the FNDC libraries by the month. That’s a lot of books. Our overall collection contains around 125,000 thousand items spread around the six libraries of the Far North. Each year roughly 10,000 new books are purchased so the collection is constantly being refreshed.

But libraries are about much more than books. They are places of information storage peopled by information retrieval experts. They contain DVDs, audio books, and magazines. Here at Te Ahu, with our magazine collection purpose-built adjacent the café, magazine lending has doubled to 1000 per month. There are special collections of puzzles, westerns and romances, as well as important and well-used Maori and Aotearoa collections.

Is the modern library in danger of being made redundant? Certainly not here in Kaitaia. In our first six months in Te Ahu we added nearly 800 new members and foot traffic increased by 40%. We continue to see new arrivals to the Far North and residents of long-standing keen to join the library. The place is abuzz with activity.

Rather than a dinosaur of the past the modern library is an ever-evolving celebration of the future and of the communities in which we live.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

Lucia and I with part of the cultural group from Waitangi.

Lucia and I with part of the cultural group from Waitangi.

Lucia and I took up an opportunity offered to all Far North residents for the month of May. We visited one of our favourite local places – Waitangi – and watched and participated in a cultural performance and a guided tour, for free. I encourage others to do the same. Good things are happening at Waitangi!

I say participated in the cultural performance because it began with a powhiri outside Te Whare Runanga and then progressed to a dynamic show inside the marae. I overheard a conversation between a performer and visitor from the Whangarei i-SITE. It seems some tour companies have been so impressed that they are now bringing overseas visitors arriving via Auckland International Airport directly to the Bay of Islands and Waitangi rather than the traditional route to Rotorua.
We’ve done self-guided tours around Waitangi a number of times but the tour we had this time, guided by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Horeke native filled in blanks in our knowledge and understanding we didn’t even know existed. For a long time I’ve felt any visit to the Far North should include Waitangi. I feel even more strongly about that now.

While living in Kerikeri in the 90s we often took our children with us to the pungent healing waters of Ngawha Springs. We decided to return to Ngawha after our touristic trip to Waitangi and we were not disappointed. What a relaxing way to finish a day! The pools feel great but it’s the interactions with the locals that takes the place from quaint to the quintessence of what the Far North represents to me. It’s real. It’s not about show. And it doesn’t matter if you smell like sulphur afterwards. Regulars freely share stories –like the one of the man with sores all over his body who camped out by the springs for a week. He rubbed mud on his skin and left it to dry before rinsing off later. By the end of the week his skin had completely cleared up. Another local told me: ‘If it wasn’t for this place I’d have been in a casket sixteen years ago.’ He had serious circulation issues then. He looks the picture of health now.

One thing that struck me as interesting during this journey was that a number of people from further south in the district had not even heard of Te Ahu when I mentioned it. Our lives, rightfully so, revolve around our immediate community. But I believe it behoves each of us to get to know and to support the exciting and innovative efforts of others in the area. Next time, before you head off to Auckland or further for a long weekend, why not consider doing something special right here in the Far North? You’ll save money on petrol, you’ll be supporting the local economy and, if you’re like us, you’ll return home feeling grateful to be living in such a special part of the world.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com


The halls are alive with the sound of music. Wiki Karena of Pukenui has taken advantage of the publically accessible Yamaha piano in the atrium at Te Ahu. Each time Wiki arrives in Kaitaia he takes time to tinkle the ivories.

“He loves to play,” says Wiki’s wife Norma, who often accompanies him on his musical forays into the acoustically-interesting atrium at Te Ahu. “The first thing he does in the morning is sit down to play on his piano. All the neighbours open their windows to enjoy the music.”

Wiki Karena was born in Te Kao in 1930. “I taught myself to play a piano that my auntie bought from a teacher leaving Te Kao School.” At the age of twelve Wiki left home to attend the Maori Boy’s Hostel in Auckland. After studying carpentry and completing his trade apprenticeship Wiki began work for Sir James Fletcher, hammering and sawing in state housing in Tamaki, Huntly and other areas. All told he laboured for thirty years on the harbour front in Auckland before retiring.

It was then that the Far North called Wiki home and he and Norma have lived in Pukenui ever since.

Wiki in the Atrium at Te Ahu

Wiki in the Atrium at Te Ahu

Te Ahu’s John Haines says: “Wiki has an uncanny knack for arriving just when a tour or other function is going on, prompting people to think his performance was arranged ahead of time. On the Saturday when Te Ahu’s art space was launched with exhibits by Robin Shepherd and Raewyn Crozier, Wiki was there.” At the time one visitor was overheard saying: “I could be in Auckland. We’ve got coffee, art and music. And this is Kaitaia!”

Wiki free-wheels through a broad range of easy listening favourites from artists as diverse as Perry Como, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Visitors love it and often stop to chat with this talented octogenarian. Wiki takes it all in stride saying: “Not bad for someone who can’t read music.”

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

One of the great pleasures for a parent is to sit snuggled up with your child (or children) reading a book aloud. We are so fortunate today to have children’s picture books with outstandingly vivid and colourful artwork. Artist/authors such as Eric Carle, Jeannie Baker, Colin Thompson and New Zealand’s own Lynley Dodd come to mind. Reading out loud like this instils a love of books in young people. You can’t start the process too early.

One of the great disappointments I’ve experienced as a parent happened the day my children disappeared with the book I was reading out loud to them—to read themselves! The disappointment didn’t last for long. I knew I’d done my job. Our daughters are, to this day, lovers of books and literature. I now have to wait for our first grandchild to revive this great pleasure of reading out loud to youngsters. But you may not have to. Here are a couple of authors with adventurous stories to read out loud (until your children take off with the book!)

Arthur Ransome (1884 –1967) was an English author and journalist turned foreign correspondent and spy in Russia during the Great War. Upon his return to Britain he settled in the Lakes District, the area which inspired his first children’s book Swallows and Amazons. Many more followed, telling of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects include fishing and camping. The books remain so popular that they provide a basis of a tourist industry around Windermere and Coniston Water – the two lakes that Ransome used as the basis for his fictional North Country lake. We possess the series in the FNDC library system and encourage you to introduce these gems to your children.

Willard Price (1887 –1983), a naturalist who worked with National Geographic, wrote his Adventure Books to encourage an interest in natural history among children. There are fourteen books in the series. We have them all in the FNDC library system plus Price’s exciting autobiography. In reading his own story I discovered that Willard Price was born in Peterborough, Ontario, a lovely small city in the picturesque Kawartha Lakes region of Southern Ontario that I called home for five years. Here’s a brief summary of his books which I cannot too highly recommend for young people, particularly reluctant male readers, interested in adventure and the outdoors.

When naturalist John Hunt realises that both his sons are too young for their classes and getting too far ahead in school he makes them an offer: take one year out and work in the family business. Hunt runs a wildlife reserve and supplies animals to zoos, circuses and conservation parks. It is no surprise when both boys jump at the chance. The Hunt brothers, Roger and Hal, travel all around the world, studying and capturing animals and learning to survive on the African veldt, desert islands and Arctic tundra. The stories are sort of Gerald Durrell meets the Hardy Boys. They’re great fun to read and a learning experience.

Membership in the library is free for anyone under the age of eighteen so give your children the life-long gift of reading by bringing them to the library.

One more thing. We recently updated our magazine collection and we’re pleased to announce some exciting additions to our already comprehensive collection. So look out for new gems such as NEXUS (the NZ edition is published right here in the Far North), Lifestyle Block and Popular Science which augment our old standbys.

The Kaitaia Public Library  at the new Te Ahu Centre is open Monday to Friday from 8.30-5.00 and Saturdays from 9-1. Please note our new phone number is 09 4089455. Come in and meet our friendly, helpful staff and browse our full and diverse collection of books and other media materials and regale in a new, true library experience in our stunning and artistic Te Ahu space.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com